Will aging millennials leave the Eastside behind?

Photo by Mary-Austin Klein

A wave of gentrification and change has left many Eastside neighborhoods awash in craft beer, yoga mats and $1,500-a-month studio apartments.  But now there are signs that the millennials who descended on inner cities across the country as young twentysomethings will increasingly be looking to move on and out to (gasp!) the suburbs.  The shift comes as the economy improves and older members of the generation enter prime home buying years, says a story in the New York Times.

Part of the story is based on research conducted by Dowell Myers, an urban planning professor at USC.  Myers, in a research paper, argues that 2015  was “the peak year of Millennial presence in inner city districts” when the largest portion of that generation passed the age of 25. Myers says in his paper:

“After a decade of rapid increase, we now can expect rapid slowing and then deconcentration … The impacts of Millennials will not disappear but will slacken as they shift toward their new life-cycle stage of early middle age. The young people of the next decade are less likely to fill the gap left behind by the Millennials.”

That change could ease the competition for apartments and slow the pace of gentrification.  “For that reason some respite from the growing Millennials might be viewed favorably in some quarters,” said Myers.

Where will all those urban millennials go? The younger generation has shown a preference for city living and being able to walk or bike to shops, restaurants and other amenities. But, Myers and other demographic specialists expect that many of the inner city millennials will eventually follow previous generations into the suburbs as they age and start families.

Myers writes:

“These facts suggest that the Millennials would likely follow stepping stones into the suburbs, moving as couples, but not immediately seeking good schools or larger sized housing for families. Instead, they will likely seek out walkable or highly accessible neighborhoods that are also popular with other Millennials. As the Millennials move past age 35 or 40, the quality of schools will grow paramount in their location decisions, especially among the sizable segment that are college educated themselves.”

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